Rock the Kasbah

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Some actors become something that transcends material they are in; their very presence catalyzes something in the production. Bill Murray (St. Vincent) is definitely one of that rare club: a personality that can fit into other stories, but who, even as he dons other personalities, manages to stay very much himself. In this case, we get to see Murray at his Murray-ist, full of heart, sincerity, humor, sarcasm, fearlessness, and wit.

Joining Murray on the odd journey of redemption and discovery is a host of players. Kate Hudson (Something Borrowed), Zooey Deschanel (New Girl), and Bruce Willis (Vice) are primary among them. In a pivotal role, the relatively unknown Leem Lubany shines wonderfully as both naive young woman and true believer/rebel.

The relatively satisfying result of the film is due to Levinson’s (The Bay ) direction, who finds the humanity in the absurd and the ugly even when Glazer’s script is ill-constructed or weak. The story is inspired by true events (loosely) but the message is one that eventually rises above the material, even leaving the story behind. As a film, the whole doesn’t bear a lot of scrutiny, but as entertainment, it has a lot going for it by keeping you off your balance even when the ends are inevitable.

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